In February 2020 we had groups and staff returning from a multitude of trips across Europe. Little did we know at that time, what was about to hit us. The tidal wave that was a pandemic had just started to tentatively knock on the worlds doors. Never could we have imagined that those trips would indeed be the last trips we would see go out for over a year.
As a family run business the words honesty and integrity, and our commitment to delivering our promises time and time again were about to receive their biggest test ever.
Over the coming weeks the world acknowledged that we were on course to experience a worldwide pandemic that would take millions of lives, force thousands of job losses, pause children’s education and for the travel sector – doors would very quickly have to close.
It’s hard to put into words the journey our business and staff have been on over the last 12 months. The challenges were monumental but we remained 100% focussed on achieving the best possible outcomes for each and every group we worked with and were committed to keeping our customers best interests at the heart of everything we did and do.
Writing this some 12 months later, with a documented roadmap out of the pandemic, facilitated by a ground breaking vaccine programme we can finally see the world’s doors beginning to open.
We know that moving forward, for schools having trust in a travel provider will be more important than ever before. We want to take this opportunity to share some of our experiences of the last 12 months, the actions we took, and how we achieved such positive outcomes in the most challenging of circumstances.
As a first point of contact, our staff were the first beacon of hope for schools when the pandemic hit. Reassurance as to how we were going to deal with their tour, as well as easing fears and worries was paramount. Our staff spoke to every single client and together they agreed what would ultimately be the best possible outcome for their school, students and families. Once this was ascertained, our team worked tirelessly to achieve this.
Refunds, postponing tours and insurance claims
During the pandemic we issued customer refunds amounting to 5.2 million pounds and our teams successfully postponed over 250 tours. We had a monumental 35,000 customers whose tour plans were affected. This is testament to our staff, our suppliers and schools all working patiently together and trusting that the outcome would be the best possible scenario for all. Things took longer than usual, but we kept in constant communication with all parties throughout so that lines of communication were both positive and constant.
We’ve been operating international school trips and tours for over 55 years. Our team in Derby are a cog in a much larger machine of worldwide partners and suppliers. From coach and flight companies, to hoteliers, museums and attractions we are supported by an exceptional portfolio of service providers. We’ve always demanded that our suppliers deliver services to the highest of standards. Our relationships with them were strong when we entered the pandemic, and due to this they agreed to share our commitment – together we remained 100% focussed on achieving the best possible outcomes for our schools. Moving forward those relationships are now stronger than ever before and should give schools confidence that we’ve got a network of exceptional worldwide providers to assist us in delivering tour experiences that surpass expectations.
We’re happy to say that the vast majority of our schools and families were exceptionally kind to us throughout. There was an acknowledgement that none of us were prepared for this and that no amount of planning could have been done in advance. Schools were appreciative of our teams’ dedication and relentless hard work, they felt well equipped to update parents and senior leadership teams throughout and ultimately they were happy with outcomes achieved, with many kind words of optimism offered for us working together again in the future.
We remained confident throughout the year that our business would make it through, that at some point the world would get back to ‘normal,’ students would return to school and that the world’s doors would finally re-open for residential school trips. Many schools continued to plan ahead for 2022 and 2023 but others were sitting tight for what would feel like the ‘right moment’. Today our vaccine rollout continues at pace, children are back in school, positive news is increasing daily, restrictions are gradually being lifted and the worlds doors are reopening. We’ve also developed our COVID Guarantee, allowing groups to book with confidence and offering financial protection should their trip be adversely affected by COVID.
Trust you’re in safe hands. We’ve proven it.
Feedback from just some of the groups who chose to put their trust in us…